The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of people in communities around the world. And while the burden of the pandemic has disproportionately been borne by poorer countries, it has also demonstrated the immense power of international cooperation. Governments, philanthropic organisations, private companies and more have joined together and committed over $20.8 trillion (£14.9 trillion) to combatting the virus. In August last year, it was announced by the World Health Organisation that 172 countries had signed up to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) programme, which seeks to ensure that vaccines are distributed equitably to middle and lower income countries.
As we slowly begin to look towards a post-pandemic future, It is imperative that countries do not retreat into isolationism. Instead, we must double down on the lessons that we have learned, and recommit ourselves to working together to solve the challenges of the future.
The threats looming on the horizon in the years after the pandemic are significant. According to the World Bank, by the end of 2021 the pandemic will have pushed 150 million people into extreme poverty, representing the first increase in over twenty years. Put simply, our world is now so interconnected that international cooperation is no longer optional. Working together will be a crucial component of our post-Covid recovery, and could even help prevent future pandemics.
International cooperation is often criticised by those who seek to divide us along ideological or geographic lines. Yet we must not let them dissuade us from doing what is both morally right and strategically sound. In a time of ever-increasing division, taking a partnership approach, rather than an adversarial one, has never been more vital. By working with our international allies, instead of turning in on ourselves, we have a real opportunity to create a more ethical and peaceful future.